Race Report: Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) rode to a solo victory in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. The Czech escaped from the leading group with 2 kilometres to go and defended his lead to the finish. Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) sprinted in just behind Stybar for second and third place.
At last the season ‘proper’ has started and the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad kicked off a weekend of Flemish road action on Saturday, with Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Sunday. PEZ profile HERE. Keep tuned for Ed Hood roadside coming soon.
There were many riders wanting to be up the road early in the race. Roy Jans of Corendon-Circus, with Tom Devriendt (Wanty-Gobert), Alex Howes (EF Education) and Tom Wirtgen (Wallonie-Bruxelles) made up the first split of the day. The four front runners took a maximum lead of 14 minutes.
With such a big lead the peloton decided to join forces and start to pull them back. For the peloton Tim Declerq, Iljo Keisse, Brian van Goethem and Michael Schär rode hard and the lead was quickly cut into. With 100 kilometres to go the lead was still 6 minutes.
With the climbs of the Haaghoek and Leberg approached, the speed in the peloton lifted. A strong ride by Kenneth Vanbilsen detached a group with 90 kilometres to go. Ian Stannard was in the group and with Vanbilsen they pulled away. Zdenek Stybar, Oliver Naesen, Danny van Poppel, Mads Pedersen, Mike Teunissen and Taco van der Hoorn were also there.
They were able to force a 40 second lead on the peloton, but CCC closed the gap for leader Greg Van Avermaet with 65 kilometres to go. So after that it was also over for the early escapees and the stage was set for the finalé.
Van Avermaet, Van Aert and Philippe Gilbert were all ready for the action with 50 kilometres to go and on the Molenberg the race exploded. With Van Aert in his wheel, Danny van Poppel put the pressure on. A group of twenty men remained at the front after the Molenberg, with one notable absentee: Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie). The Dutchman was in a chase group at half a minute.
They didn’t stay together long and on the Berendries there was more fireworks. Tim Wellens, Van Avermaet, Daniel Oss, Dylan Teuns, Stybar and Alexey Lutsenko were in the lead with 20 kilometres to go. Yves Lampaert and Tiesj Benoot crashed, Lampaert could join the chase group, but for Benoot it was all over. The leaders kept their pursuers at 20 seconds.
That lead turned out to be enough. From the climb of the Muur van Geraardsbergen, the race became a man-against-man battle as the chase lost their organisation. Van Avermaet turned out to be the best on the Muur and Bosberg, the others had to let him go, but came back again, except Oss, leaving five riders to battle for the win.
The five men kept a close eye on each other in the last few kilometres, waiting for the one big attack. Wellens was the first who tried to shake the rest, but Van Avermaet jumped directly on his wheel. Then it was Stybar who put in his attack immediately afterwards. Van Avermaet reacted briefly, but Stybar was away. With a small lead of only 9 seconds the Czech took his second win of the season. Van Avermaet and Wellens came second and third.
Het Nieuwsblad 2019 winner, Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “Finally it happened and I could finish it off in a cobbled classic! The feeling is really nice, the form is good and the team has confidence in me, which is so important; everything fell into place today and I am so happy with what I achieved, that I can’t put it into words.”
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Result:
1. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck – Quick-Step in 4:53:17
2. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC at 0:09
3. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana
5. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida
6. Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
8. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
9. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
10. Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R-La Mondiale
11. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal
12. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb
13. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
14. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Sky
15. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First
16. Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
17. Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana
18. Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
19. Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin at 0:28
20. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct Energie at 0:29
21. Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe at 0:30
22. Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R-La Mondiale at 0:32
23. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 0:44
24. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles at 1:52
25. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Movistar.